President George W. Bush has told Britain’s Tony Blair to expect no favours at this week’s Group of Eight (G8) summit in return for backing the war in Iraq, as a deal on climate change looked set to offer little concrete action.
PM Blair has made tackling global warming and relieving African poverty the twin goals of his year-long presidency of the G8. He will host his fellow leaders at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland from Wednesday to Friday.
‘‘I really don’t view our relationship as one of quid pro quo,’’ Bush told Britain’s ITV1 television in an interview. ‘‘Tony Blair made decisions on what he thought was best for keeping the peace and winning the war on terror, as I did.
‘‘So I go to the G8 not really trying to make him look bad or good, but... with an agenda that I think is best for our country.’’
Reports that a last-ditch round of negotiations by G8 officials over the weekend would result in an accord going some way to recognising the science behind global warming were bolstered by French President Jacques Chirac who said on Sunday that the G8 leaders were ‘‘heading towards an agreement’’.
But in the interview, Bush was cautious, and environmental experts said rather than risk an open rift, the eight leading nations had decided on an accord offering the barest minimum on planetary warming. ‘‘If this looks like Kyoto, the answer is ‘no’. The Kyoto treaty would have wrecked our economy,’’ Bush said in the interview, which was recorded last Wednesday.
A G8 diplomat said an open split with Washington would be avoided, but said the officials who had met in London would reconvene in Gleneagles to tackle ‘‘the remaining issues and make the text as dynamic and strong as possible’’.
Chirac pokes fun at Britain over Mad Cow disease
PARIS: French President Jacques Chirac cracked jokes to Russian and German leaders about bad British food and Mad Cow disease, Liberation said on Monday, revealing comments that could further strain Anglo-French relations. The French daily said Chirac was overheard making a series of jokes at Britain’s expense to Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on the sidelines of a meeting on Sunday in Kaliningrad, Russia.
‘‘The only thing they (the English) have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow,’’ Chirac quipped, according to the paper, prompting laughter from Schroeder and Putin. When asked about Chirac’s reported comments on Monday, French Government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope told reporters: ‘‘I have nothing particular to say’’.
Relations between France and Britain were already at a low point, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chirac blaming each other for the failure of June talks on the European Union’s long-term budget talks. Chirac took the opportunity of a receptive audience to snipe at British food. ‘‘You can’t trust people who cook as badly as that,’’ he joked. ‘‘After Finland, it’s the country with the worst food.’’ Reuters